Slices of Serbia: a pizza pity party
When I was researching Belgrade in preparation for our move here, guidebooks and blogs all seemed to agree on one thing: no one comes to Serbia for the pizza. I thought this was fine. I mean, we weren’t coming to Serbia for Mexican food, either. Who cares if the pizza is bad? As I read more on the subject I discovered why Serbian pizza horrifies the casual traveler. It’s not because the crust is too thick or thin. It’s not because the ingredients aren’t fresh. It’s because if you’re not careful, your pizza slice could be covered in ketchup. Specifically, pizza ketchup.
Oh yes, this is real. Pizza menus will describe their pizzas as having cheese, tomato, pepperoni…and ketchup. But RHOB, this isn’t really ketchup, right? It’s something else. Nope, this is ketchup. Actually, it’s a little sweeter than American ketchup, so in some ways it’s worse than Heinz 57 or something similar.
But not to despair, non-Serbian pizza lovers! Many places offer pizza without the ketchup. And there are several Italian restaurants in Belgrade that serve Naples-style pizza sans red stuff. There’s even a Pizza Hut on Makedonska. I’ve never been there though so I can’t comment on their ketchup policy.
Truthfully, it’s not the ketchup that tourists should be concerned about: it’s the marinara sauce. This is the most confusing part of ordering pizza here. Sometimes, the marinara sauce is good. Really good. I’ve drizzled it on white pizza or dipped my pizza crust in it. Other times, it’s awful: a processed, sweet goop with chunks of canned tomato in it. STAY AWAY. When you get the side dish of sauce, it’s hard to tell whether you’ve got the good stuff or not–so you’ve got to ask yourself…do you feel lucky? Well, do you?
Overall, I think Serbian pizza isn’t great, but I have a few places that satisfy the craving in Belgrade. The best pizza I’ve had here was in Novi Sad at Kuca Mala, pictured above. Excellent cheese-to-toppings ratio, a nice crust (not too doughy) and decent marinara sauce. Muz’s pizza was just ok. He made the odd choice of getting the Mexican pizza, which featured corn and…carrots. People may not come to Serbia for the Mexican food or the pizza, but they certainly won’t stay for a Mexican pizza.